A horrific event: What we know about the Marshall Fire burning near Boulder

The 1,600-acre Marshall Fire burning near Boulder, Colorado, has destroyed an estimated 500 homes in the city of Superior and continues to threaten more as winds preceding a much-anticipated snowstorm caused the state’s latest catastrophic wildfire Thursday.

Here’s what we learned about the fire from a 5 p.m. press conference. Follow this link for updated coverage from USA TODAY reporters on scene as additional information becomes available.

What’s the cause of the Marshall Fire?

The fire, named for its proximity to the unincorporated community of Marshall, is believed to be caused by power lines that were damaged by strong winds that gusted up to 110 mph midday Thursday. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said deputies confirmed power lines were downed in the area Thursday.

Pelle said the fire was “consuming football field lengths in seconds,” and called it “a horrific event.”

What has burned in the Marshall Fire?

In the 5 p.m. press conference, Pelle said all 370 homes in Superior’s Sagamore subdivision are believed to have burned, along with a potential 210 in the 13,000-resident town’s Old Town neighborhood. Also burned were a Target shopping center and hotel.

Pelle said additional structures in the Marshall area west of superior are believed to be consumed by the fire.

Has anyone died in the Marshall Fire?

Pelle on Thursday said that a firefighter suffered a minor eye injury due to flying debris, but that as of 5 p.m. no deaths had been attributed to the fire. However, Pelle said he “would not be surprised if there are injuries or fatalities” due to how fast the fire burned through populated areas.

Pelle said there have been no people confirmed to be missing in the fire area, in response to a reporter’s question.

Emergency officials will begin damage assessments when feasible, possibly as early as Thursday, depending on conditions.

How is the Marshall Fire being fought?

Firefighters from across Colorado, including those from Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins, have responded to help local firefighting crews in Boulder County. Thursday’s high winds meant that firefighting aircraft were unable to fly, and would likely remain grounded until daybreak Friday.

What’s believed to be Colorado’s first nighttime aerial firefighting mission ended in tragedy earlier this year when pilot Marc Thor Olson was killed in a crash battling the Kruger Rock Fire near Estes Park.

Pelle requested 12, two-member National Guard teams in to assist with the fire, with that request granted Thursday. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also announced a state of emergency during the fire, which was approved by the federal government, freeing up additional resources to respond to the fire and help those impacted.

DENVER — Thousands of residents in two communities near Boulder were ordered to evacuate Thursday because of a wind-fueled wildfire that engulfed parts of the area in smoky, orangish skies.

The city of Louisville, which has a population of about 21,000, was ordered to evacuate after residents in Superior, which has 13,000 residents, were told to leave. The neighboring towns are roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Denver.


The blaze was one of several that started in the area Thursday, at least some sparked by downed power lines, as winds gusted up to 105 mph (169 kph), according to the National Weather Service.

Videos taken by residents showed buildings on fire, though officials had yet to provide any information. They were scheduled to speak at a news briefing Thursday evening

Six people who were injured in the fires were being treated at UCHealth Broomfield Hospital, spokesperson Kelli Christensen said. A nearby portion of U.S. Highway 36 also was shut down.

Colorado’s Front Range, where most of the state’s population lives, had an extremely dry and mild fall, and winter so far has continued to be mostly dry. Snow was expected Friday in the region though.

 

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